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Club Member: Marci Concotelli
Race: Ironman Wisconsin 2009: IronVirgin no more!
Distance: Ironman
Race Date: 09/13/09
Submit Date: 09/15/09

Hi Everyone, I completed my very first Ironman this past weekend. It happened to be back on my college campus: University of Wisconsin. Family and friends were present - and I was fortunate enough to race with my Big Brother. Below is the report (warning: it's long....) However, if you would like a "cut to the chase" here it goes: 16:23:29. ****************** Sunday, September 13, 2009 With only 2 NON-restful hours of sleep behind me, I awoke at 4 a.m. I started the coffee, started mixing my oatmeal and peanut butter… The windows in our hotel room faced the lake and you could already see busy volunteers running around the building making sure everything was in place. Amazing. I wasn’t sure how to take the fact I had only 2 hour of sleep in me and how on earth was I going to workout for 17 hours on only 2 HOURS SLEEP!? What the heck?? We’ll see what I could do today… like it or not! Super Husband marked my arms, legs with “71”. He wrote my age on my left leg. I was ready to go! However, I stayed in the hotel room – just took it easy. Tried to choke down the oatmeal (even though I just wanted to barf). However, so many have told me they didn’t feel great starting their Ironman and didn’t eat enough…so I just hoped that food would stay put and be that important fuel for my internal engine! Around 5 a.m. Big Bro stopped by. He had me mark his arms and legs and after that was all done we all headed down to transition. I did a final tire check with my tires, placed my Hammer Perpeteum on the bike as well as filled my front bottle with Gatorade. We were ready to make our walk to the swim start. Holy cow, this is about to happen…. Realization that I was about to start my own first Ironman was hitting. SWIM – 1:53:06 2.4 miles (2 loop course) The swim is in Lake Monona, right off Monona Terrace. The water was 75 and although murky, easy to swim in. No chop, complete glass so early in the morning. We all walked down the helix (parking garage exit/entrance) and came to the area where the athletes separate from loved ones. I had some last minute kisses, hugs, and tears with Super Husband. He gave me some wonderful warm thoughts and kept reminding me to breathe… “just breathe – think of me and breathe…” I did that ALL day! It helped so much. Wes (Big Bro), his friend Joe, and I did our final wetsuit check (all zipped, velcroed), put in our ear plugs, swim cap on, goggles on…yep, all good to go. Once the pro’s were in the water and treading to warm up we were allowed in (around 6:30 a.m.). Wes, Joe and I hit the water and slowly made our way to the starting buoys. We relaxed in the water – just treading, we’d occasionally flip our feet our in front of us or lay on our backs and float. Watching all the chaos from the lake was much easier to take than being in the middle of it! At 6:50 a.m. the pro’s were OFF!! Our time was soon coming – 10 more minutes!! I dread race mornings since I am not a fan of the anxiety. I knew within 10 minutes all that anxiety would be gone as I put my face in the water and pushed one arm stroke at a time. Task at hand – no time to worry! 7:00 a.m. – BOOM!!! The cannon was fired and we were off! I purposely positioned myself in the back left (back because I am slower and left so I could move inside the buoys). The masses were moving and I swiftly found my place and had no problems with being kicked, punched, grabbed, pushed. The entire swim was so calm and relaxing – hard to believe since this swim is known as a contact sport. I made the turns with no issues – just slowly but surely. I was sure to not go too fast (may have intentionally gone a little too slow) in order to keep my heart rate down – knowing this was going to be one long day. As I made my final turn, I could see my swim finish and I motored over. I put my hand up and a swim helper grabbed me. My legs weren’t sure they wanted to move for a second and the swim helper held me up as I wobbled. Then I was out and running. Transition 1- 9:33 Swim cap off, goggles off. The strippers (“wetsuit removers” – but I like “strippers” better) were right around the corner – I wasn’t expecting them so soon so my zipper wasn’t undone, my arms weren’t out of the suit. I felt behind schedule – but two strippers got me right away and helped with arms, legs – I was out of that suit and running in no time! The first transition for this race has you run up the helix and although I have no issues with the helix it seemed to go on FOREVER. Around, around, around! Finally – to the top, to the conference room and changing area. A kind volunteer dumped my bag (I said “just dump it all!”) and she took out my Hammer Gel flask, my sunglasses as I put on my helmet and gloves. She was super. Quick pit stop – then to my bike. I found my bike at the far end (aka ‘rockstar parking’) due to participation in the Janus Charity Challenge. Right there, next to the bike out area, was my bright blue bike. By this point most athletes were gone – but there in the corner was my brother waiting for me. Since he’s done this race several times he wanted to be with me on the course as I did my first. (He sacrificed his race – to be a slowpoke with me). I grabbed my bike – clipped in – and rolled! BIKE – 8:11:01 112 miles (2 loops) I rode down the helix in pure delight that I was out of the water. Now on to the 112 miles! The first 14 miles or so take you out of the city into the country towns of Verona, Cross Plains, and Mt. Horeb. Most think Wisconsin is flat terrain but this area is a lot of rolling hills. The first 14 miles went quickly and before I knew it we started the first “loop”. It was familiar territory since I knew where I was, what to expect, how to gear. I practiced this course several times with my brother when I visited – and now it was the real deal. This course is known for its technical difficulty. There aren’t any long steep climbs or descents – just constant rollers with 90 degree turns at the bottoms of the hills. Several hay bails on corners along the course. The rollers also leave little for recovery time so my training for this race consisted a lot of interval sessions. It helped immensely! The spectators in this race are amazing – almost all the hills were lined with spectators having their own party watching all of us. Amazing!! There is a little stretch that has three feisty hills close together and the first loop went very well. The TriChicks series helped a lot with that – tried to keep my heart rate at a good place. At the end of my first loop the pro’s were flying by ending their second loop (how humbling!). The start of the second loop was of course tougher – mentally and physically. I did stop at Special Needs to have a bite of a croissant (soak up some of that Gatorade and Hammer Perpeteum) and within a couple minutes was right back out there. The sun was out and much of the shade was gone. The winds / breezes were virtually non-existent. The fields created this hot humid area as we cycled through. I kept watching the clock – making sure I had time to finish. I knew the cycling portion would be my thorn – and all the training, all the work I’ve done, I desperately moved myself to make that cut-off! After the second set of tough hills were history, it was mostly downhill back to race central. I think mentally I perked up knowing the end was soon. The area I really did not like on this course was the area through Olin Park – the bike path takes you through the Alliant Energy Center’s parking lot, on a community park bike path – then finally back onto the road. There was an area where it was single file only with sharp turns and this obviously cuts down the speed. Before I knew it, I had time on my side and I was climbing the helix back up to transition. I heard my mom and Super Husband waiting for us at the top, yelling for us. I think I gave them a heart attack – with only 15 minutes to spare before the cut-off. BUT I MADE IT!!! Transition 2 – 6:10 I rolled into transition with a mere 15 minutes to spare. Talk about giving my family and support crew a heart attack! However, there they were waiting for me as I cycled up the helix to T2. I scooted into T2 and had another wonderful volunteer help me. She dumped my bag, grabbed my visor for me. I put on my running shoes – and ran out the door. Run – 6:10 26.2 miles (2 loops) I ran out of transition and saw the support crew. Hugged and kissed – and went on my merry way. I was feeling good considering I was sitting on a bike for 8 hours. The only thing that felt “off” is my asthma kicked in around mile 80 on the bike. Good thing is I had an inhaler with me – the bad thing is I couldn’t breathe fully and completely so I coughed a lot and could not quite run a much of the run portion as I wanted. I ended up power-walking many miles versus running. The run on this course is completely awesome – it’s on UW Campus and takes the atheletes down State Street (the main drag for UW – lined with bars, coffee shops, pubs, etc.). Runners get such a rush from all the spectators – and the views aren’t bad either. We ran past the state capital building, down State Street – then turn off through campus. We ran through Camp Randall (UW Campus football stadium) then down along Lake Mendota (another lake along campus). By the time I started the run it was later afternoon so it was cooler and more comfortable. The first loop went very well and quickly. Before I knew it I completed the turn-around at the Capital, watching others claim their fame to becoming Ironman. I knew my turn was coming…. A couple hours down the road, but my time was coming. The second loop was mostly power walking since the coughing wasn’t completely out of my system. However, Big Brother and I plodded along at a good clip – we met up with two other LATC’ers actually and made some new pals along the way! The run path became quite dark so late into the night, there wasn’t much light at some points so we had to move along carefully. The other runners we met were so great – it’s always fascinating to meet other Ironman hopefuls. We all have the same goal – and those who are multi-Ironman finishers enjoy sharing their stories as we all pass the time. The miles clicked away – and before I knew it, I passed picnic point (the farthest point from the finish) – said goodbye to all the wonderful posters made by supporters and made my way to the finish. I had a date at the finish line!! The last few miles went quickly and my heart lept with excitement. About a mile from the finish my brother hugged me goodbye and said I was on my own from that point forward. He wanted to get ahead so he could watch me finish. He sprinted off and I continued up State Street – power walking, taking in the last few moments of my first Ironman. I didn’t want the day to end – I didn’t want to finish to complete the chute just yet… I started rounding the capital building and the supporters got louder. I could hear Mike yelling athletes’ names… the emotion finally took hold and I was consumed with happiness, excitement, tears, relief, bewilderment! I picked up my pace and HAD to jog the final stage. I looked behind me and no one was there so I would have my very own moment. I continued along and as I took the final turn I was blinded by the flood lights. With tears rolling down my face, I smiled and laughed with giddiness. This is what I’ve worked so hard for…. I raised my hands up high and heard Mike Reilly yell: “MARCI CONCOTELLI – FROM LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA….. YOU – ARE – AN – IRONMAN!”. It was a blur of hugs, kisses, congratulatory remarks for the next hour. I loved every ounce of it. It was difficult (mentally more than physically) – but so rewarding. I am a back of the packer – but full of heart and gumption, just the same. Total time: 16:23:29. Never in a million years did I see myself finishing an Ironman on my old Alumni stomping grounds. And here I was… In short: I came. I did. I am an Ironman. -Marci Concotelli www.labadger.wordpress.com marci.concotelli@yahoo.com

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